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Hot Hot Heat – Future Breeds

February 14, 2011

It’s been a long time, and I mean a LONG time since I listened to Hot Hot Heat with any sort of real interest. At the time when their debut came out and Bandages was doing the rounds (still a great song) and having seen them on TOTP (God that makes me feel old) I remember being more than a little keen on seeing them perform live, looking energetic, original and to a microscopic level like The Mars Volta – although it may well just be to do with both front-men sporting quite fetching ‘fros.

However, much like Robbies Tapes ‘n Tapes, I found their second album to be less than lacking. It lacked any of the punchy, quick witted and instantly gratifying nature of the first album (incidently their full debut clocked at little over 38 minutes). In frankness it sounded tired, forced and pretty much suffered from what I believe to be a record company influence, along the lines of The Klaxons follow up album.

Hot Hot Heat – 21 At 12

Their third album marginally improved what at this point had become a formulaic approach to underground indie whose motto must go something along the lines of “We are a guitar band that are unique because we have a singer who occasionally hits a keyboard”. Sadly they obviously missed out on the entire decade prior to their rise to fame….and the 80’s….and the 70’s for that matter. Fuck it, let’s not prevaricate around the bush, they just completely dropped the ball and I was incandescent with rage….ish. Although I must admit that it was their gung-ho approach to vocals and production that originally drew me in, with striking similarities to the post punk movement of the early 80’s (see Japan, Roxy Music and to a lesser extent the debut Duran Duran album).

But anyway, having practically and quite successfully ignored the band for well over 2 years I completely by chance (desperately trying to move away from the word “random” and all its derivatives) heard a song on the hilariously long….LONG overdue PS3 game GT5. At first I was unsure of what I had heard, but the vocalist is so recognisable that I had a pretty good hunch and immediately looked the band up when I got back home.

It turned out that they had indeed released a new album. It also turns out…and I don’t mind sticking my neck out here to a bunch of people who read this site and I am keenly aware don’t like this band……that it is pretty damn decent. I’m not afraid to admit that a lot of my appreciation for this album comes from sentiment; partly from my memories associated from when the first album was doing the rounds, but also because this is a band that I really had high hopes for at the time.

Hot Hot Heat – YVR

However people and bands move on so it would be fair to say that perhaps their style of music remained the same whilst my tastes moved on. And yet with this album, with such songs as “What Is Rational” and “YVR” I feel I can still connect with a lot of effort that has been put in. I couldn’t tell you honestly that they gone back to the drawing board and come back with something entirely fresh and new, but they definitely went back to some sort of hypothetical board and came back with an album that refreshes their old style and concentrate more heavily on the parts that actually made them fairly unique…albeit over 8 years ago.

The slightly more progressive compositions come back in (I think of “In Cairo” in the same moment as title track “Future Breeds” and “Buzinezz Az Uzual”) as do the bizzare bashing of synth keys (sadly no organ noises for fans of “Bandages”). But instead we see a definite maturity and a definite development of style and skill with some quite bizzare timing and much improved guitar work (see “21 At 12”). Lead singer Steve Bays has also done much to improve his already decent vocal style  by adding a little bit…well a lot of in fact….of variety to his repetoir with some lovely falsetto work and genuinely pleasant melodies.

I may be a sentimental fool for liking this album but I would still highly recommend at least giving it a chance. It’s early days yet – I only picked this thing up a couple of months ago and there is every possible risk that my opinion has been skewed by how truly, dreadful and awppawling the last two albums were….(I have a horrible and sneaky suspicion that ‘Elevator’ was even meant to be some sort of horrific prog-like concept album that went so wrong it would take a whole other post to disect in the manner it deserves) – and yet I still feel this is an album that is at least worthy of a listen for the unaware and certainly I will be listening to it for at least a few months to come.

I truly believe that Hot Hot Heat may well have suffered dreadfully at the hands of their label…something that is still common today…in part due to another post-punk revolutionary band I will revisit soon (see Mark Hollis)…and I will start looking at this in future posts. Expect a fair but savage review of The Klaxons in the coming weeks…but thankfully, like so many bands before them, getting out of an abusive relationship seems to have done them the world of good.

Hot Hot Heat – Buzinezz Az Uzual

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 17, 2011 9:08 am

    I had all but given up hope of a decent album from HHH after their last one, which did have the feel of a band pushed in a certain direction by their label.
    I picked this up purely because I liked the artwork. I agree, this is a definite improvement on their third album, Happiness Ltd, but I quite enjoyed Elevator back in the day!!
    Further reading on how Record Labels mess with a band’s sound: The Koreans major label debut in 2004, which completely diverged from the quirky sounds of their previous EPs and became boring mainstream rock.

  2. Robbie Bizzle permalink
    February 17, 2011 9:20 am

    I had all but given up hope of a decent album from HHH after their last one, which did have the feel of a band pushed in a certain direction by their label.
    I picked this up purely because I liked the artwork. I agree, this is a definite improvement on their third album, Happiness Ltd, but I quite enjoyed Elevator back in the day!!
    Further reading on how Record Labels mess with a band’s sound: The Koreans major label debut in 2004, which completely diverged from the quirky sounds of their previous EPs and became boring mainstream rock.

  3. j-diz permalink
    February 28, 2011 6:05 pm

    Never liked these guys. The singers voice annoyed me and their music seemed shallow (and pedantic!).

    21 at 12 sounds pretty sweet though, YVR seems like it’s got something going for it but Buzinezz Az Uzual didn’t do much for me. Overall, a lot more likeable than I would have imagined, so I might have to give it a listen sometime.

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